No, sheep cant surf The conversation has turned from and Im fast getting tired of it. Ill tell you what, let me write the article and then you can make use of the comment section belowWe often disagree about hypotheticals in the office. Detailed and passionate discussions regularly rage over whether, say, a paraglider could net an eagle, and what would be the best approach? However with the UK release of Patagonias Merino Wetsuits pending, this conversation had a basis in reality for once. Jon, a firm believer in the self sustaining logic of nature has been delighted with the development of merino wool into adventure wear. Its works for the sheep in all conditions, and now it works for us in all conditions on land.It seems that despite my long held and yes, boring belief that an Icebreaker bodyfit 260 works as the best rash vest, and will serve you as well wet as dry, Jon has issues understanding the logical development of Merino into Wet-wear. In his mind he can only compare it to a flock of sheep tentatively dipping their feet into the waves and collectively backing off Fast. To his mind, its just not natural. (Coincidentally, Finisterre have just proved that wrong too with their brilliant new video.)Lucky then that the good people at Patagonia showed more mental agility when setting about designing their innovative wetsuit. So how does wool in a wetsuit work? Patagonia have applied the logic of their Regulator alpine insulation fabrics, and lined the wetsuit with a grid-patterned chlorine-free wool/recycled polyester blend. This patented insulation fabric construction is combined with the highest quality Japanese neoprene 80% non petrol based and a 98% closed-cell ratio. The design increases warmth by creating a larger dead air space, and also allows less neoprene to be used in production. Recycled polyester is blended to better insulate, to wick moisture away from your skin and dry quickly. In the words of Dan Malloy, it is unquestionably the warmest and most comfortable wetsuit I have ever worn.Warmth in a wetsuit is fine, but as my girlfriend will tell you, it too often comes at the cost of flexibility – you might end up sacrificing as much wave time through fatigue, rather than body warmth. Of course this was not ignored, and, through epic product testing, has been overcome Double-lined nylon underarm panels are patterned without wool for greater stretch while paddling. Wayne Lynch confirms that as far as flexibility is concerned there are no worries, its very, very flexible.These key innovations along with regular splashes of Patagonia quality, such as anatomical, compression-molded, PVC-free kneepads which are more durable and more flexible than conventional models; the massively but comfortably reinforced seams which are triple-glued and blind-stitched to prevent blowouts; or the key pocket hidden away in the neck gasket. These all combine to create a truly top of the range, wetsuit that is long lasting with a drying time roughly a third that of regular suits.
There is a great video showcasing the wetsuits here
For those looking to get their hands on one, Loose Fit in Devon will be stocking Patagonia Wetsuits at approx 399. They are expected towards the end of the summer. The guys there have been using them over the winter and confirm that they do indeed live up to their promise. We also hope to feature them in our own online outdoor shop when it goes live in the not to distant future.
But is there such a thing as a green wetsuit?A truly eco-friendly wetsuit still seems to be someway off. The trouble is in finding an alternative to highly energy and resource intensive neoprene, but developments and investments are being made.
The Body Glove Eco for example claims to be the first green wetsuit, but this claim largely comes down to the use of limestone rather than petroleum in the production of the polychlorprene. While escaping from the dependence on oil, the environmental benefits of this are still far from green, as this Patagonia blog explains.
Experimentation with recycled, new and innovative materials continues, and maybe one day we will have something that resembles a green wetsuit. Watch this space, we shall be sure to report on it when it happens!